Jason Keehn | Infocast
Everyone knows cannabis is HUGE. Arcview Group projects USA legal cannabis sales to hit $24 billion by 2020. According to the State of Colorado, 2015 sales reached nearly one billion bucks ($996,184,788).
Celebrities are all over medical marijuana – a quick spin through Twitter reveals dozens of Hollywood actors, pop musicians and sports heroes endorsing marijuana, whether for pain relief (via Cannabidiol or “CBD”), as a human right, a “once in a lifetime business opportunity” and/or a solution to Planet Earth’s sustainability problems (i.e. hemp)… and, let’s be honest, the High.
But how many celebrities are actually INVESTING in cannabis businesses? Unfortunately there is a lack of solid data.
It’s far easier to identify celebrities who are putting their names on cannabis brands – Snoop Dogg (“Leafs by Snoop”), Whoopi Goldberg (“Whoopi & Maya Brand”), Willie Nelson (“Willie’s Reserve”), Rosanne Barr (“Roseanne’s Joint,” a dispensary), Melissa Etheridge (cannabis-infused wine) and – no surprise – Tommy Chong, are just a few among a growing list.
In the case of Snoop, beyond his own brand of bud, he has also started his own venture fund, Casa Verde Capital, with $25M in operating money, which funded Eaze.com.
In the news of late is Sean Parker, former Facebook VP and founder of Napster. Parker has donated $1 million to get adult use legalized in CA. Away from the Left Coast, Frostee Rucker, former 98 Degrees boyband singer Nick Lachey, and former NBA star Oscar Robertson have all supported the ResponsibleOhio initiative.
Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel is said to be an investor in Privateer Holdings (either directly or indirectly). Privateer has a pool of up to $89M to wield for investments, much of it from Founders Fund. Privateer owns Canadian grower Tilray, the media site Leafly, and the Marley Natural brand. Per Christian Groh, Partner and Co-Founder of Privateer, “Bob Marley and his music have been an integral part of the cannabis movement for 50 years. We are honored to work with the Marley family to create products that reflect his enduring legacy and values. Like Bob Marley himself, Marley Natural has a strong social conscience that runs through the heart of everything we do. That social conscience is something we are very proud of, and distinguishes Marley Natural from other celebrity cannabis brands.”
Neither Thiel nor Parker are 90210 celebs but they are some of the higher profile investors. Onwards.
As far as Hollywood goes, let’s look at Seth Rogen, the “stoner-hipster” star, who has virtually defined a film genre. According to the Guardian, he co-invested with Snoop in the cannabis news site MerryJane.com. The Guardian proceeds to quote 90210 cannabis insider Cheryl Shuman who says “this is the biggest investment opportunity in our lifetime. Much bigger than the dotcom boom ever was.” Which suggests that a vast number of unnamed celebrities in Beverly Hills are gearing up to sink funds into cannabis brands and operations.
According to International Business Times, “Next up could be cannabis products marketed around the Doobie Brothers, Jefferson Airplane, Kiss and Woodstock, courtesy of a new partnership between the Bloom Cannabis Group consulting company and the licensing and merchandising firm Epic Rights.”
Talk show host Montel Williams was briefly involved in a medicinal marijuana dispensary. Most recently, long time marijuana rights champion Woody Harrelson’s application for a dispensary in Hawaii was turned down.
T.J. Miller, improv comedian and star of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” sitcom (as the blowhard stoner & incubator owner Erlich Bachman), hasn’t mentioned any investments in the space (yet), but did perform in Leafly’s Comedy Tour. Miller, quoted in GeekWire, noted: “The truth is, I’m a comedian. But I’m not really like a marijuana comedian. I’m a comedian who smokes a lot of marijuana. I’m also someone who’s a proponent of marijuana — not really an activist, because I think there are better people at being an activist than me, but I can help with legalization. I can help organizations and institutions that are marijuana-focused succeed, and by that, continue to try to make it more mainstream.” So who knows, perhaps Miller will put those “Silicon Valley” residuals to good use.
No doubt we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to celebrity cannabis investment.
Christian Groh from Privateer Holdings along with Evan Eneman, Managing Director, Casa Verde Capital will be joining an Investment panel at the Cannabis Quality Summit, July 21, in Los Angeles.